March 27, 2014
12:00 pmto4:00 pm
Photo courtesy Outward Bound

Photo courtesy Outward Bound

San Francisco adventurers Molly Blaisdell, Marybeth Bond, John Hamilton and Spud Hilton will be rapelling down the SF Hyatt Regency on Thursday, March 27, between noon and 4:00.

Outward Bound California’s City Skyline Challenge is expected to be an event like no other, giving participants the chance to experience an exhilarating 230 foot rappel from the roof of the Hyatt Regency at 5 Embarcadero Center. In boldly going Over the Edge, the hope is that participants discover that they are capable of achieving more than they thought possible.
It’s a charity event, and you, too, can give it a try; read more at 7 x 7.

“Roughly 5,000 years ago, a group of people, for some reason, dragged massive stones 140 miles from Wales to Wiltshire, England, arranging them in a series of concentric circles to create Stonehenge. For years, we’ve been trying to figure out what was remarkable enough about these rocks to make the long-distance journey worth the effort—particularly the massive bluestones, which at ten feet long and weighing four tons, must have been truly special to justify bringing them all that way.”

If this question has been puzzling you, check out explanation in The stones used to create Stonehenge have unusual sonic qualities.

don-georgeLast summer, Don George spoke at the TBEX blogger gathering in Dublin, Ireland. Now National Geographic Traveler brings us the quintessential tips Don offered in his TBEX talk: “The Quality Quotient: Creating Content That Engages and Expands Your Audience.” Don shares ideas in three helpful articles: before the trip, during the trip, and after the trip.

SwickStoryBucks recently published a Q&A with Thomas Swick, author of two books, a collection of travel essays entitled A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania with a Maverick Traveler, and a travel memoir, Unquiet Days: At Home in Poland. Swick talks about the best writing advice he has received—and given, common misperceptions about travel writers, the prospects for career travel writers these days, and more.




Thanks to Dick Jordan at Tales Told from the Road  for the link to this article by Greg Oates in Skift: Marriott Jumps Into the Content Marketing Game, which all but promises a burgeoning market for travel content.

Did you know that Fast Company partnered with Mariott, or that AFAR Media partnered with Westin Hotels?

Marriott Hotels makes a somewhat surprising move by partnering with Fast Company, Mashable, and Wired to create branded travel content that could mark a turning point in hotel marketing.


November 11, 2013 | Leave a Comment

MaptiaThe Maptia travel blog site offers 13 tips for telling stories about places. My favorite compares writing to photography:

“Use different vantage points: As you would with your photographs, vary the focus of your writing and the pace of your story by using different vantage points. Imagine you are taking wide shots when you are describing the setting and landscape, middle-range shots for the context and colour, and close-ups for the detail and narrative. Switching between these different views will help you bring the story to life through your writing.”

waterslideYes, I know I missed the summer season, but I just came across this post on World Spa & Travel, and loved the water slides. What a great reminder that now matter what your topic, travel writing can encompass it.


moodmapWest Virginia is the most neurotic state, Utah is the most agreeable and the folks of Wisconsin are the country’s most extroverted, a new study says. Take TIME’s test to find out which state most suits you.

According to the study, the winners (or losers, depending on how you view these things) were in some cases surprising and in some not at all. The top scorers on extroversion were the ebullient folks of Wisconsin (picture the fans at a Packers game — even a losing Packers game). The lowest score went to the temperamentally snowbound folks of Vermont. Utah is the most agreeable place in the country and Washington, D.C., is the least (gridlock, anyone?).

SATW-awards-2013Huge congratulations to Mary Jo McConahay (freelance writer, author, blogger and documentary filmmaker), who won the 2013 SATW Grand Award: Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year! The judges comments included this note:

The best travel writing entices readers to be adventurous anywhere — from the remoteness of the tropical rain forest to the density of sprawling Sao Paulo. Mary Jo McConahay does just that in “Maya Roads: One Woman’s Journey Among the People of the Rainforest”

LipstickWant to kick your travel writing up a notch? Here’s what Rick Steves recommends on Wanderlust and Lipstick: My favorite bit:

“I look at travel writers as the current equivalent of the court jester. We need to inspire our citizenry not to be so fearful of the world. Give your readers context…”

oldmapTravel writer Andrea Granahan’s blog includes accounts of rounding Cape Horn, learning temple values in a Balinese banjar (“Laughter is also considered an offering to the gods and most of the dramas included bawdy humor to provoke it.”), and tips for making long-distance traveling more comfortable.

Larry Habegger has a beautiful new website, inspired by Candace Rardon’s watercolor header image and built by Likoma.


economicmapAnother batch of odd maps, including (to name just a few):

  • Where 29,000 Rubber Duckies Made Landfall After Falling off a Cargo Ship in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean
  • Top 10 Busiest Air Travel Routes of 2012
  • Where Google Street View is Available
  • Literal Chinese Translations for Country Names in Europe
  • Map of the World with Places Visited Colored In (tattooed onto the back and shoulders of someone who must be an incredibly committed traveler).

Different but related post: 40 Maps that Explain the World.

Here’s travel writer Jim O’Donnell’s well reasoned argument for why travelers have a responsibility to help correct economic imbalances in places they visit.

“Should foreigners pay more?

mola“That was the question back at the beginning of summer when a heated discussion ensued among travel bloggers on Facebook. At the center of the debate was the tendency of some world governments to charge foreign visitors more than locals to enter a national monument,

Wanderlust Cafe

September 16, 2013 | Leave a Comment

WanderlustcafeI met Lou Ann Granger (Physicist, Artist, Traveler) last month at the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference—and loved the images over at her Wanderlust Cafe.

JdombsI enjoyed Jdombs Travels’ 10 Fun Facts About Russia, including the number of billionaires in Moscow.


I’ve Gotta Pack!

September 2, 2013 | Leave a Comment

gottapackI met travel writer Laura Holmes at the recent Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference, and enjoyed seeing her book I’ve Gotta Pack: Fun Travel Tales that Will Get You Packing a Trip.

“Through these pages you will journey alongside the author and her travel companions as they summit Kilimanjaro in Africa, discover Machu Picchu in Peru, ski through blizzards in the Rockies, breathe in big Alaska air, get wet in Costa Rica, and relive some family adventures. You will finish the book already planning your own adventure.”


I met Allison Thomas at the recent Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers conference. Check out her blog at Adventures in International Law, which is about Allison’s journey from corporate litigator to international lawyer, including her experiences in the world of international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as her cultural experiences, observations, and blunders along the way.

sf-mapWant to see what San Francisco looked like in mid-1800s? Check out this map from the the David Rumsey Map Collection, at Online, you can scroll over a current map of San Francisco to see an underlaid sailing chart of San Francisco and its bay, made in 1859 by the fledgling US Coast Survey—very cool.

Smithsonian also has rollover maps for Washington, D.C. in 1851 (when the Lincoln Memorial site was underwater) and New York City in 1836.

What a fun way to incorporate history into stories about San Francisco, Washington, D.C., or New York City.


SmurfVillage“Juzcar has become a hotspot for worldwide travelers, and one of the most recognizable villages in Spain. Once a traditional white village, the picturesque hamlet changed its look in the summer of 2011, becoming the first and only official Smurfs village in the world.” Read more in this article by Miruna Corneanu published in Spain Attractions.

familyvagabondingI met so many inspiring travel writers at the 2013 Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference! Here’s Powell Berger’s website, FamilyVagaBonding:

“Ours is an open-ended journey of education, discovery and adventure. After more than forty countries, five continents, a few hundred thousand miles, one stolen backpack, no lost luggage (yet),  dozens of UNESCO sites, and too many spectacular moments and interminable night flights to count, we can’t imagine our life any other way.

“Family Vagabonding:  Field trips around the corner and around the globe. Getting to know our planet and the people with whom we share it. The first inklings of our family’s open-ended roadschool adventure came during…” Read the rest at You can also connect on Facebook at Family-Vagabonding.

Global Spirit TV

August 21, 2013 | Leave a Comment


I enjoyed talking with Phil Cousineau at the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference, and was reminded about Global Spirit, the exceptional TV series he hosts. Connect with Global Spirit on Facebook, and watch it on PBS.

“Global spirit is a unique inquiry into humankind’s belief systems, wisdom traditions, and states of consciousness. Presented by British actor and writer John Cleese and hosted by author and spiritual seeker Phil Cousineau, this unique, critically-acclaimed series features renowned experts such as Karen Armstrong, Deepak Chopra, Robert Thurman, Raine Eisler, and many others. Mixing evocative film segments with deep discussion, Global spirit takes viewers on a mind and soul-expanding journey,

wp-mapsFrom racial tolerance by country to child poverty rates (the U.S. ranks 34th out of the developed world’s 35 countries in child poverty rates, above only Romania) to Chinese cancer villages, these maps from the Washington Post are a powerful tool for understanding the world.

adventuroustravelerHere’s an excellent internship opportunity—working with the legendary Don George:

“The Adventure Collection is looking for an intern who is passionate about adventure travel, social media, travel writing, photography, and blogging. Primary duties will include researching and writing bylined articles for the Adventure Collection blog and promoting the AC website and blog through social media. We are looking for a talented and passionate person who is willing to devote approximately 8-10 hours a week for 4-6 months. The intern will work closely with Don George, AC web editor in chief, and Matt Kareus, director of marketing and will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the internship. For more information, email Don at”

overbookedThanks to journalist Suzie Rodriguez for is link to Skift’s interview with Elizabeth Becker, author of Overbooked: the Global Business of Travel and Tourism. Here’s an excerpt:

Skift: Why did you do this book now? What was the kick-in-the-pants to get it started?

Elizabeth Becker: As you know from my bio, I’ve been the foreign correspondent and an editor at National Public Radio, and reported around the world for the Washington Post and the New York Times. I’ve watched the evolution of tourism …
“… That kept happening, where I was reporting on an international economics story and some official in some foreign country would say how this was important for their tourism sector. When I tried to write about this for the Times, they said, “We have a travel section.” That’s when I saw this ghettoization of the tourism industry … no one looked [at] tourism as the industrial giant that it is.”

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